What is Problem Solving?

Problem Solving is a person’s capacity to think logically and solve new problems. It is important in almost every role regardless of industry.

It factors highly into the Plum talents Decision Making, Innovation, and Execution.

Problem solving questions in the Plum Discovery Survey ask candidates to identify patterns and relationships in order to determine the correct answers. The questions are designed to estimate a person’s potential in using mental processes required to solve work-related problems or to acquire new job knowledge.


Research has shown that high scores on these tests:

  • Predict how successful candidates are in training.
  • Predict performance across jobs and organizations* .
  • Are an indication of "fluid intelligence", which is conceptually related to pattern recognition and deductive reasoning.   

The relationship between scores on problem solving tests and job performance is stable over time (Murphy, 1998) and predicts job success beyond other prerequisites, such as work experience and employment interviews**.


Plum’s Problem Solving Test measures fluid abilities and does not require language or much acquired knowledge to solve the problems on the test. The most comprehensive review of the validity of this type of employment test was conducted by Postlethwaite (2011) based on the results of dozens of studies and thousands of job candidates. This review showed that scores have a stronger statistical relationship to job performance than the typical job interview. The Plum Problem Solving Test was developed by examining the tests used in these studies and constructing similar items.


* (Schmidt & Hunter, 1981)

** (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998)

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